The last few posts of mine got me to thinking about how I best relax from my own inner intensity. I usually take time out to go hiking in natural spaces. But it snowed again today, and though I’d gone out for a while in the car (kinda scary, folks), it wasn’t a really comfortable temperature to go walking in. Besides, I think my oldest daughter wore my boots to school.
I wrote this post a while back on another blog…and I wanted to share it here (I don’t think I have already).
It is my very humble opinion that much of our world’s current malaise is due to what Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, coined as “Nature Deficit Disorder”.
Getting out in nature has always been an experience that I treasured, from the time I was a little girl. I was born in the Midwest, but when I was 7, my mother and step-father moved us to New Mexico. We spent some time up in the Sandia Mountains. Every winter, we’d make the treacherous trek up the mountain to cut down a Christmas tree on a small parcel of land my parents owned. As some of my readers already know, I didn’t get along with my family very much, but I am so glad they took us into the mountains as children.
When we would go visit my biological father in Colorado, he and my stepmother would take us to the local reservoir to muck around in.
When I had difficulties as a sensitive teenager in a home that was filled with lots of fighting between my parents, I’d retreat to my favorite two places. I’d stop off at the library to grab a book, then take it into the forest preserve behind the library to read. It was a wonderful way to soothe myself from the difficulties I went through with my family.
As a mother of three daughters I make it a point to take my children out to natural places at least a couple of times a month. Sadly, aside from our small park and softball fields, we don’t have any forest preserves within walking distance, and though I think that is a shame, I am not going to complain too much. At least we have a few beautiful places within driving distance.
I wanted to share a few photographs of places we love.
We’ve been going to a mapping tree tapping event (clicking the link will take you to my science blog, The Exploration Station to see some pictures of this event) at a local forest preserve each March to learn about how maple syrup is produced.
This is our local arboretum that we visit multiple times a year. We bought a family membership so now we go quite a lot. This shot was taken on Earth Day in April of 2o12.
This small canyon is part of a state park in Illinois known as Starved Rock. The area has many small canyons and is rich in history too. We took the girls for the first time in 2012 and again in 2013 during spring break and we loved it.
One of my absolute favorite shots of my in the forest at Starved Rock was this one with middlest daughter.
A few years back, we traveled by train to go visit my dad in Colorado and we made a stop at the Garden of the Gods to do some hiking with the girls. We all had a lovely time climbing the red sandstone.
The views there were breathtaking.
Each fall we visit a living historical farm/homestead during their harvest days that had on its large property a farmhouse, a barn, and a one-room schoolhouse and every fall we would attend the harvest festival. I love going because we get out in Nature AND a history lesson.
It’s so important to me to share these experiences with my daughters. I’m not a total ‘roughing it’ kind of gal, and for now, still feel connected to where I live in the relatively quiet suburban town. But I make it a point to get out to nature as much as we can.
I think it’s really imperative that everyone make time to seek out these natural spaces, diminishing though they may be.
Two of my daughters are in the gifted program in school, and the youngest one may well be next year too. But more important to me than stuffing their heads with knowledge, is bringing them to places to learn about our natural world to counter-balance the information they are requited to learn with more hands-on exposure to Nature.
So many of their friends are already well-endowed with all types of electronic gadgetry, and I ask them from time to time if they ever get out to any of the places we visit with their families, and they tell me no. Every time I talk to adults with children, I am always encouraging them to take their kids to natural places explore that aren’t so very far away.
There’s something bubbling up to my consciousness about what it is I want to do with the second half of my life and I plan to talk about it some more as I investigate the kind of vocation I’m more and more feeling called to do.
I’m really feeling it on my heart that I have to start taking some kind of action to help save this planet. I am not sure where, nor how, but I do know this…I’m tired of being depressed. I’m tired of feeling anxious. I’m tired of feeling powerless. And I’m tired of feeling helpless.
But I know I am of able body, and of (mostly) able mind. There’s got to be something that I can do and not just be a bystander and watch our world’s natural places and resources be consumed. I love these natural spaces. I feel much more grounded, much more connected, much more peaceful out there, in those places than I ever have indoors. And I don’t want to sit idly by while the voracious technological machine destroys what little we have left.
I want to help reverse this trend of destruction. I’m not sure how yet, exactly, but I have a few ideas in the works and I’m going to be investigating how be a part of the efforts to conserve our natural world.
I will be sharing my plans for this as I start fleshing them out, so stay tuned if you’re interested.